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Steve McCatty remembers Ernie Harwell

Baseball tonight lost legendary Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, by all accounts one of the finest gentleman and ambassadors the sport had to offer. No one on the Nationals knew him better or felt his impact more than Steve McCatty, a Troy, Mich. native who worked for the Tigers after his playing career ended. Here, simply, are some of McCatty's unfiltered thoughts on the voice he learned baseball from:

"He was such a big part of my life. It's like a part of your family dies, for everybody. We all knew it was going to happen. I'm sure there's a lot of sad people there.

"You grow up, you go to the ballpark as a kid, you think of Tiger Stadium, the first thing you thought was this green grass when you walked up from underneath. And then you just think of Ernie Harwell's voice. It was everything to us.

"Everybody talks about Vin Scully. He's great at what he does. Ernie would say Vinny was the best. But for us in Detroit, nobody was better than Ernie. It's just kind of strange a part of baseball history is gone now. He was just a wonderful man. Great storyteller. Never heard him cuss in all the years I've know him. In baseball, that's saying something. I think he's the only person that never called me Cat. He always called me Mr. McCatty or Steverino. That's the only guy I let get away with that. He was just a fun guy to be around. He knew so much about the game. It's a big loss for baseball.

"Growing up in Michigan as a kid, what do you hear first? It was just Ernie. Ernie was a summer night in July, sitting next door in the breezeway with my friends, or being out under the tree with my dad. He was so good.

"It's like I would stand around the cage - I wasn't supposed to stand around the cage when we were taking BP. He came up and introduced himself as Ernie Harwell. It was always a joy to see Ernie. I was just thankful for the memories he gave me as a kid."

While McCatty spoke in the clubhouse, a clip of Harwell played on a television screen. McCatty excused himself so he could watch. He gathered himself, shook his head, smiled and started to speak. "Great man," McCatty said.

By Adam Kilgore  |  May 4, 2010; 11:55 PM ET
 
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Comments

As great as they come. You just can't do any better in life. God bless you Ernie.

Posted by: Mike_Fox | May 5, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Boz was right... Nats Journal getting a lot of love from the WaPo tonight

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 5, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

Although I am now an unadulterated Nats fan, I grew up in DC as a Tiger fan. I was 6 when the Senators left for Texas. My dad grew up in Dearborn, so I gravitated to the boys from Motown. I could never warm to the O's.

Some of my great childhood memories are listening to the "the Spirit of '76 - WJR Detroit" on summer evenings. Our AM radio in Bethesda could pick it up clearly when the sun went down. Hearing Ernie and his partner during the 70's and 80's Paul Carey was just outstanding. They helped me develop a life-long love for this game and will always be something special I share with my dad. There was nothing better than hearing Ernie call an Alan Trammell HR or a Jack Morris strikeout. Sweet.

Guys like Ernie Harwell and Jack Buck epitomize for me all that is good about the rock-solid Midwestern values of community and baseball. Although I grew up an East coaster, there will also be a part of me that associates with that culture. Ernie was a big part of that. As he said about the '84 team - "Bless you boys"

#4

Posted by: db423 | May 5, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

The great voices of the game are being silenced as time and mother nature take their toll Ernie Harwell will be missed no doubt but the memories of Red Barber, Chuck Thompson,Jack Buck, and Harry Carry will live on forever, i was scanning the mlb package and found out the great Dick Enberg is doing San Diego Padre games Enberg for years was the voice of UCLA basketball during that team's heyday under the legendary John Wooden.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 5, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

While I am sure there were poor announcers back in the day, you hear the great voices mentioned above and you see there aren't many in the game now - with the MLB package you get to hear a smattering of announcers and very few stand out. Sad that as the video side of baseball has improved 1000% the audio part is worse.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | May 5, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I was listening to the Dodgers last night on XM and Vin Scully did a lovely tribute to Harwell in the bottom of the first. Said he wanted to honor Harwell without getting in the way of the ballgame, then told some great stories without missing a pitch.

Posted by: markfromark | May 5, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Great Post #4, Great Post.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 5, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to repost what Nats24 wrote earlier:

"Thinking of Ernie Harwell's passing, I'd recommend to anybody who hasn't to listen to a Dodger broadcast on MLB-TV to hear Vin Scully do it all by himself. There's nobody like him, and you know he can't go on forever."

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 5, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

That was a terrific post, #4. Just happen to have recently rented and viewed a Netflix DVD on great voices of the game. Mr. Harwell was among them, of course. Am looking forward to reading Tracee's column about him.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 5, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

This is a really sad day. Ernie Harwell was the voice in my ear as I did my homework as a teenager and studied in college. If it was a west coast game, I'd fall asleep to his unique, magnificent voice. A true gentleman, we lost one of the great ones last light. More than anything else, he knew when to stay silent and just let the sounds of the ballpark waft into my bedroom or car. Farewell, old friend.

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | May 5, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

heaven just got a little better place to be...

Posted by: outrbnksm | May 5, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing this AK. Very touching. I grew up listening to the great Bob Prince calling the Pirates games on KDKA in Pittsburgh. He had some classic sayings that are still with me: "We had 'em all the way!" and "high popup to right, it's just a can of corn for Roberto." (If anyone asks, I can explain why a high fly ball was a can of corn.) I feel for all the Tigers fans who've lost a little bit of their history.

Posted by: Section222 | May 5, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Link to Tracee's piece on Harwell:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/05/AR2010050502436.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 5, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I grew up hearing Gene Elston and Lowell Passe broadcast the Colt 45s, then Astros. "Now you're chunkin' 'em in dere!" The voices of our youth sure do stay in our hearts and minds.

Our guys Charlie and Dave are making friends along the way too!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | May 5, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

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